There are many reasons to amend a tax return. Before you begin the process, speak to a professional about making changes to your prior filing. With complexities such as statutes of limitation, tax benefit rules and others, changing a return is not a simple decision.
Here are some tips if you are considering making changes to a prior filing.
File Form 1040X to Amend a Tax Return
Mistakes happen and tax returns are no exception. Filing an amended tax return corrects information that changes tax calculations. This includes making changes to filing status and dependents, or correcting income credits or deductions. Don't file an amended return to fix math errors because the IRS will correct those.
The IRS offers tips on how to amend a tax return:
- File using paper form. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct errors to an original tax return the taxpayer has already filed. Taxpayers can't file amended returns electronically. Mail the Form 1040X to the address listed in the form's instructions.
- Preparing Form 1040X. Many taxpayers find the easiest way to figure the entries for Form 1040X is to make the changes in the margin of the original tax return and then transfer the numbers to their Form 1040X. Taxpayers should be sure to check a box at the top to show the year they are amending. Form 1040X will be the taxpayer's new tax return, changing the original entries to include new information. Taxpayers should explain what they are changing and why on the second page of Form 1040X in Part III.
- Know when to amend. Taxpayers should amend a tax return to correct their filing status, the number of dependents or total income. They should also amend to claim deductions or credits not claimed or to remove deductions and credits they are not entitled to on the original return. The instructions for Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, list more reasons to amend a return.
- Know when NOT to amend. In some cases, it is not necessary to amend a tax return. Taxpayers should not worry about math errors because the IRS will make the correction. Taxpayers do not need to amend their return if they forgot to include a required form or schedule. The IRS will mail a request to the taxpayer, if needed.
- Use separate forms for each tax year. Taxpayers amending tax returns for more than one year will need a separate 1040X for each tax year. Mail each tax year's Form 1040X in separate envelopes. See "Where to File" in the instructions for Form 1040X for the correct address.
- Include other forms or schedules. If a taxpayer makes changes to any form or schedule, they should attach them to the Form 1040X when filing. Not doing so could cause a delay in processing.
- Wait to file for corrected refund for tax year 2016. Taxpayers should wait for the refund from their original tax return before filing an amended return. It is okay to cash the refund check from the original return before receiving any additional refund. Amended returns can take up to 16 weeks to process.
- Pay additional tax. Taxpayers filing an amended return because they owe more tax should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible. This will limit interest and penalty charges.
- File within three-year time limit. Generally, to claim a refund, taxpayers must file a Form 1040X within three years from the date they timely filed their original tax return or within two years from the date the person pays the tax, whichever is later. For taxpayers who filed their original return early (for example, March 1 for a calendar year return), their return is considered filed on the due date (generally April 15).
- Track your amended return. Taxpayers can track the status of an amended return three weeks after filing. Go to "Where's My Amended Return?" or call 866-464-2050.